SDSN Kenya Co-hosts Carbon Markets Clinic and Debate

On 25 March 2024, SDSN Kenya joined WRI Africa and other Kenyan partner organizations in co-hosting an interactive workshop and debate format entitled: ‘Carbon Markets: Which Way for Kenya? A Carbon Markets Clinic and Debate’. The full-day event was hosted at Strathmore University in Nairobi, a local SDSN network member institution, ahead of an official Carbon Markets Conference organized by the Kenyan government on 26-27 March. Close to 200 participants were in attendance with leading experts and practitioners from the Nairobi Climate Network, Aspen Initiative, Green Belt Movement, Climate Action Platform-Africa (CAP-A), as well as community and civil society leaders throughout Kenya.

In addition to bringing in Kenyan climate and development researchers from the SDSN Kenya network, we were able to facilitate the active involvement of Kenyan ‘carbon’ farmers through contacts of the SDSN FELD (Food, Environment, Land and Development) Programme. These farmers are members of the vast TIST network that links more than 100,000 Kenyan farmers across 5,000 villages with regular payments from global carbon markets for more than a decade. A representative of TIST actively joined the discussion panel to present the everyday experience of her fellow farmers with already existing carbon market mechanisms – an important practical contribution to what unfortunately is often a controversial, polarized, and abstract issue in Kenyan development discussions.

To stimulate vivid debate, expert-led clinic sessions that explained key issues in carbon markets were followed by an Oxford-style debate in the late afternoon.

Key issues raised during the event include:

  • Carbon credits and their role in the pursuit of climate commitments under the Paris Agreement to reach “Net Zero”;
  • Carbon pricing mechanisms and controversies around them;
  • Carbon trading transaction costs and project finance;
  • Land ownership and its implications for carbon markets;
  • Inclusivity, benefits sharing, and community safeguarding;
  • Current concerns around integrity, transparency, and the pervasiveness of corporate greenwashing; and
  • Kenya’s legal and policy provisions regulating carbon trading, and their effectiveness.

Carbon markets continue to garner significant interest in Kenya, where the government is currently developing a ‘Carbon Credit Trading and Benefit Sharing Bill’. This full day of civil society and expert-led discussions with stakeholders from across the spectrum in Kenya demonstrated both the demand and the importance of bringing complex development and financing issues to a broader audience, alongside government meetings.

SDSN is grateful to its partners in Kenya, especially WRI Africa and the FOLU Coalition Kenya Platform, and its funders at the Robert Bosch Stiftung for their support and partnership.